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4.5 out of 5 stars
Easy Gluten-Free Baking
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79 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2009
I started a gluten-free diet about a month ago and, as a serious baker, was gravely concerned about my ability to reproduce all my favorite foods. I researched and purchased many books to help me with the transition. This book has been, by far, the most successful and reliable. There has not been a single failure, and several recipes have become fast favorites, competing with or even exceeding past baking favorites made with wheat. Also, the book has a helpful lay-flat spiral binding and some lovely, always appreciated pictures.

I'd say two things cause this book to stand out above the competition. First, the recipes are obviously exceptionally well tested. Second, these recipes are carefully calibrated to produce foods that very closely resemble the classic baked goods most Americans were likely familiar with before a gluten free diet. If you're craving chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, or chocolate cupcakes, this book will give you versions that, frankly, no one would guess lack wheat. The author herself is not gluten-intolerant, so she eats and compares 'regular' versions and gluten free versions. I think this perhaps gives her a leg-up in reproducing wheat based foods so exactly, without letting wishful thinking or shifting taste buds influence her judgments. There is even a chapter devoted to replicating store-bought products like twinkies, oreos and graham crackers. Although this book would be perfect for a family with celiac children, or all-american tastes, the basic recipes and techniques are so well-tested that it would be very useful to the celiac gourmet looking for help adapting the base recipes in his or her favorite creations. [The author also has a paid web site with more well-tested recipes and some product reviews. Although somewhat expensive, I have ultimately found this to be a good value given the quality of the recipes.]

The 'classic american' focus of the book is it's main virtue, because most celiacs will be craving just these kinds of foods. However, this is not the book to turn to if you are looking to make healthy, low-calorie, or 'whole-grain' type recipes, multi-component five star restaurant style desserts, or want to experiment with the newest, most unusual or health-food-store type ingredients like stevia, amaranth flour, or mesquite. Most recipes use some combination of white rice flour, cornstarch, sweet rice flour (and also xanthan gum)-- i have often substituted brown rice flour with great success, just to avoid a totally refined sugar/starch bomb (and I have found that purchasing finely ground rice flour does make a difference for products like cakes). Otherwise, most of the ingredients are pretty standard ones: butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon etc.. There are occasional uses of ingredients like shortening and jello (in poke cake), but not very often. Except for those who object to refined products like sugar and cornstarch, it's hard to imagine a gluten intolerant baker who wouldn't find this book extremely helpful.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2009
You cannot go wrong with this cookbook - it's worth every single penny!!

In August 2008, my youngest son was diagnosed as being allergic to wheat and put on a gluten free diet. This makes cooking a lot tougher, since the rest of us don't need to be on this diet. So when I'm cooking I not only have to keep his diet in mind, I have to know that ALL of us are going to like it. I have spent hundreds of dollars buying cook books, various ridiculous ingredients, hoping that the meal I just made would taste even a little bit normal. Unforutnately, without fail, everything would come out tasting like cardboard or wouldn't come out at all. Until now...

This book came along and I haven't looked back since. Every recipe I have made by Elizabeth Barbone has come out right the very first time. The ingredients are reasonable. The instructions are easy to follow. (Even my 13 and 10 year olds made items from this book) I made the brownies for my sons 2nd grade class - they even ate the crumbs. The chocolate cake is to die for. My husband LOVED the pizza. The sugar cookies tasted just like grandma's! =)

NONE of these recipes have failed me yet! I would, without hesitation, buy any cook book by Ms. Barbone. I even joined her web site, well worth it!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2009
Like the other reviewers said, if you only buy one gluten free baking cookbook, buy this one! The recipes turn out every time, and taste "normal"!

The chocolate cake is AMAZING! The sugar cookies actually roll out like sugar cookies should (unlike many other GF cookie recipes), and they taste great!

Another great feature of the cookbook is that it is spiral bound so it will lay flat as you use it. You don't have to stack books on it to hold the pages open.

This cookbook will save you money if you have to bake gluten free. First, you know that all the recipes will turn out the way they should because the author has tested them many, many times. Second, they use easy to come by ingredients (rice flours, cornstarch, etc.). Third, the results are WAAAAAAYYYY, better than any GF mix you can buy. (And those GF mixes are very expensive.) A few times making the cake and cookie recipes rather than buying mixes will pay for the cookbook very quickly.

This cookbook would also be a great gift for someone you know who has recently been diagnosed gluten-intolerant. You won't be disappointed!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2010
We just purchased this book despite not being able to find much information on the internet as to whether the recipes would work well with casein(dairy)-free substitutions. The reviews are so good, we decided to give it a try! One problem, on first read, seems to be that sweet dairy whey is used in most of her yeast breads, and from her description of it in the introduction, it doesn't sound like there is a good substitution for it.

However, there are two notable yeast bread recipes that do not use sweet dairy whey: the Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns and the Easy Sandwich Bread. We tried the former tonight. We substituted potato starch for the cornstarch (since we are also corn-free) in a 1:1 substitution, and cashew milk for cow's milk (again 1:1). (We made the cashew milk by blending 1 cup of raw cashews with 4-1/2 cups water in a BlendTec blender on the whole juice cycle.) We were pleased with the results. We baked them 7 minutes longer than suggested to try to achieve golden brown (which was supposed to signal the end of baking), but they only turned a very light brown, which we are thinking may be due to the lack of cow's milk. The golden brown could probably be achieved if the buns were brushed with egg before baking, but it's not that important to us. The buns had a thin, crisp crust, and the interior had a wonderful consistent texture that was firm but not dry. They remind me of an Italian sandwich roll. If you're looking for a soft bun, this adaptation won't get you there (we don't know what the results of the original recipe are), but it definitely gives a pleasant roll that will hold the burger with no problem.

We intend to try the Easy Sandwich Bread soon and will try to post our results. Our plan is to try to substitute almond meal for the instant nonfat dry milk. (We're not interested in trying DariFree or Better Than Milk, since we are trying to stick with whole, unprocessed foods.)

By the way, paging through the book, there are many, many recipes where dairy is not even an issue. For other recipes which have butter as the only dairy ingredient, we plan to try ghee (clarified butter), which is casein-free.

Overall, I would call this book a definite score for those on GFCF diets.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2009
I have been Gluten Free for over 25 years and prior to my diagnosis, spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen baking lovely goodies that were making me sick. Once I went GF, I suffered through years of "just not being able to get that cake, cookie, bread just right." That has changed. In the past few years, I have been baking only out of necessity and for my own needs as why should I subject friends to my many substandard creations. Then I bought this cookbook and everything changed! The first coffee cake I made brought tears to my eyes when I tasted it. This was the real thing reflected in both texture and taste. Not only are the recipes great, they are beautifully presented in this book. The ingredients are simple and are things I always have on hand. I am now baking for friends again and loving it. Thank you Elizabeth!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2009
This cookbook is a must for the Gluten Free Dieter. I have been cooking and baking with Elizabeth's recipes for 5 years and they just keep getting better and better. Gluten Free baking for the adolescent to the adult has never been so easy ! No more bread crumbling in your hands, no more coffee cake that tastes grainy and stale.... The Quick Breads, Yeast Breads, Breakfast treats, Pizza, Cookies, the list goes on and on... recipes for all the foods you miss in her cookbook AND by going to her website you'll find tips on the best pasta, the best crackers... it's all there. You can use her recipes to make "mixes" like you would buy in the store but much less expensively and they taste fabulous. Most of our friends and family cannot tell the difference between the gluten filled recipes and Elizabeth's Gluten Free recipes. Her website is awesome [...] and is a wealth of information for the Celiac Sufferer. I especially like that she makes the gluten free kitchen easier to maintain without a million different ingredients. She even converts recipes for her subscribers who miss the gluten filled family recipes and want her to create a gluten free version. This is a MUST for those wanting an EASY wonderful tasting library of Gluten Free Recipes thanks to Elizabeth!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
The pros are she used basic white rice flour, brown rice flour, cornstarch and potato starch for most recipes. These are simple flour and my family is allergic to tapioca flour so I am so glad she does not use that. If your looking for more multi grain recipes this is not the cookbook for you.
She does use dry milk powder in most yeast breads and I hate the taste so I have had to adjust recipes. She also used dry whey powder which is hard to find in my area unless you order it and it is usually processed in facilities that process wheat which we can't have.
I don't know how it affects the texture of the bread but my experience with Basic Sandwich bread caved in the middle. It had that horrible stick to your teeth feel that you get from most gluten free recipes. The Rye Style bread which I did change up to make it more Pumpernickel style was good. I hated the Classic Yellow Cake it came out horrible dry and I used it for my daughter's birthday cake which was so disappointing. I have since had better luck with other yellow cakes recipes on Allrecipes. The Chocolate cake is delicious!
The hamburger buns are also good but again I had to adjust the recipe. I am glad she does include a few recipes that don't require xanthan gum because I find it had to digest and usually omit it from most pies, cookies and cakes with good success. I just checked it out at the library but I am considering purchasing the book. It does have it's uses and no one cookbook has totally great recipes IMO.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
In this case, you should judge the book by it's cover. It's just as beautiful inside, and the lovely pictures, and friendly, chatty writing style can make you feel like the world is a wonderful, happy place again. I'm a cake fiend, and I already have two great cookbooks with cake recipes, "Gluten Free Baking Classics", and "1,000 Gluten Free Recipes", but the cover of this book made me decide that I always have room for just one more. But this is it, unless any of the three authors write another book! Having said that I'm a cake fiend, I need to qualify it. I eat a piece for my birthday and maybe one or two other pieces during the year, so when I do eat it, I want it to be good, and this book delivers. The chocolate cake on the cover is phenomenal, and it's so gorgeous, you almost won't want to eat it, but you will. I've been baking for over 30 years, so I can pretty much tell when a recipe will work, and when it won't. I have not made all the recipes in this book, but I have a list of the ones I want to try, and I know they will turn out well. My husband is a cheerful taster, and has been known to take extras to work and not share them very often! I'm pretty sure that if he ever takes any of the cake to work, nobody else will get to try it! This is one of those books that you find yourself almost smelling the products as you are reading about them. I would consider that a sign that I should have bought this one long ago. I would also have to say again that the pictures are phenomenal, and the directions are very clear and concise. "Gluten Free Baking Classics" is still my favorite book, and I have two copies of that one, but I'd have bought three if it had all the pictures that this one does. I'm not usually a visual person when it comes to cookbooks, but this one definitely changed that; I won't discount a book with fewer pictures, but beautiful photos go a long way with people that are visual. My husband is an artist, and he loves looking at the pictures, and he loves the results. Buy this book and make something for your favorite artist, or mathematician, or doctor, or, you get the picture....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2011
I have been gluten free for 2 years and had tried several different flour mixes trying to see what would be easy,affordable and taste like I remember with regular foods. I found it in this book.
This is my go to cook book that I have used over and over. The recipes are easy to follow and I have made something out of every section. From pancakes, big fat cookies, chocolate cake, banana bread, coconut cake, pizza dough, easy homemade bread to the devil dogs and Twinkies. This cook book is a must buy for your gluten free kitchen. The ingredients are easy to find and not some obscure expensive items. I love the blend of white rice flour, sweet rice flour and cornstarch for most recipes. I finally have a blend that is not coarse or dense. Thank you Elizabeth Barbone! Your recipes have made such a difference for me and my family.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2009
I'm not on a gluten-free diet, but I bake for someone who is, and I can tell you that not only are these recipes easy, the food that results is delicious! The chocolate chip cookie recipe is as good as any gluten-ful one I've tried, and all of the other recipes that I've tried have been delicious and easy to make. The pumpkin bread and brownies are particular favorites of mine, and no recipe has been a disappointment. Highly recommended!
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